Friday, March 6, 2015


Years ago when I first moved here from the Midwest, I started a series of flowers. There were to be six in all and all of them were to be pink. The first was a peony, then a rose, a stargazer lily, parrot tulip, a hyacinth and last but not least a fuchsia. Well I finished the first four and got half way through the fifth and the sixth never made it, until now. I pulled the drawing up for this class to show another type of painting. This is a very "stylistic" type painting. It's all about design, the way the branches cross over, the perfect angle of the flowers and lastly the box around the flowers with the leaf at the top and the branch at the bottom breaking the box and no background. Just another way of putting a painting together.
I can't really stress enough that you must be sure that your drawing is correct and all there before you put one brush stroke down on your painting. Watercolor paper can be easily damaged by too much erasing or pencil work, making your paint difficult to manage and can even cause the color to darken in areas you don't want it to.

I do all my drawing on tracing paper, sometimes going through 10 or 12 sheets to refine my composition to exactly where I want it so there will be no changes once it is on the watercolor paper.

Okay once you have your drawing on the paper its time to start painting! I started this painting on the lowest open flower on the left. I chose to do my flower in two tones of pink, probably a carry back in my mind to finishing the series I started many years ago. But I gave you the option of using
any color combination you wanted. Fuchsia come in so many
color combinations and they are all quite lovely.

Here you can see what the flower started out like, I was using Permanent Rose and Cobalt Blue for the top part of the flower and a mixture of Permanent Rose, Hansa Yellow, and Quin. Gold for the bell petals. Where I wanted to get darker shadows I very lightly used Paynes Gray. I didn't wet the area of the petals before I put my color down, but used a very light coat of color then as the area was drying I kept adding more and more color, allowing the water to blend the paint. If you get dark lines of color where pigment has floated to the edge of an area, use a clean brush, wet it, wipe it almost dry on a paper towel, then slowly run the tip of the brush along the line. Wipe the brush every little bit so the extra pigment is taken off the painting surface.

The stamens on this particular flower are the same color as the top of the flower, as is the stem of the flower. You can do
them as you do each flower or wait and do them all at one time when the body of the flowers are all done.

Following the flowers from bottom up I did the next flower, then skipped up to the unopened bud at the top. I did that one next because it is behind the other two flowers making it easier to make the petals of the front flower appear closer. It is a good rule of thumb when painting to consider the location of your items. Closer items will have sharper edges, items further back or behind will have softer edges. The further back an item is the softer, or blurryer (I'm not sure that is a real word, but you get the idea) an item will be. When I say item it can mean furniture in a room or the petals of one flower.  By making close up items sharp and in focus and farther away items softer you create depth to your painting.

After finishing the flowers on the right I went back and did the last two buds on the left side.  Why I saved them for the 
last I have no idea, it just turned out that way. And here is where I ran into a problem with color. The buds are the same color as the top of the open flowers, the left petal of the open flower ran over the right bud and got totally lost. Normally I would just use my quarter inch flat and pull some color out and put a shadow under the petal to make it stand out. In this case I couldn't because I was using Permanent Rose, and when they say Permanent they mean Permanent. So instead of going lighter I went darker, adding some Paynes Gray to the tip of the petal. Now because I did it on that petal I used the same mixture in the shadows of the other three petals on this flower and very sparingly on the other flowers and buds as well.

The stems of the flowers are the same color at the darker color of the flowers, as the stem goes up towards the branch I added just a touch of sap green while the pink was still wet.
 Before moving on to the leaves I want to point out an error I made it this painting that I didn't see until looking at the photos as I put them on this blog. The flower on the farthest right has a petal painted the paler color rather than the darker color. Do you see it? We all get tunnel vision when working on a painting, including me. This is an easy fix, all I have to do is go in with the darker color and  do a little reworking of the petal next to it and it will be okay. If it had been the opposite and a light petal had been painted dark, it might have required a bit more work but would still be possible. Because this particular flower comes in so many color combinations I would have changed the lighter colors on all the flowers to a dark purple and saved the painting. Never get so frustrated with a painting that you give up on it without going over all your options. If is beyond help, it is still a learning experience and after all it is only one piece of paper. Start again or move on to another subject.

Okay the leaves are all Sap Green, to lighten add Hansa Yellow, to darken add Cobalt Blue, to really darken add Paynes Gray, For these leaves I work one side at a time, quickly brush on a coat of Sap Green watered down, leaving the little stem white. While still wet I drop in the other colors. No two sides of the leaf is the same color, usually the side that is farthest away is darker, closer is lighter either by adding some yellow or watering down the pigment. The stem that goes down the center of the leaf and connects to the branch is a mixture of Sap Green, Paynes Gray and a touch of Permanent Pink. The stem will look better if you don't make it a solid color from tip to end. Vary the strength of the color by the amount of water you add to the pigment. If your color gets too dark you can use a damp brush to pick up some of the color, one of the reasons I love sap green is because it is pretty easy to pick up. the branches are next to last to do and are a mixture of Cobalt Blue, Hansa Yellow and whatever red you used in your flowers. You should end up with a greenish brown color. As you are painting the branch in some places add a little extra of the red to make a reddish brown. Again, try to vary the color as you move along the branch, your branch will look more dimensional if you do. The border around the edge is just straight Sap Green.

Here is the finished piece, or almost finished piece, I do have to go in and change that one petal!! Now that I see it I can't take my eyes off of it. Hope you enjoyed doing this painting.

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